By Collin Allen

Nano Spin Cycle

October 4, 2005

MacMerc has an interesting story about an iPod nano that survived a trip through a washing machine and partial dryer cycle. I would have waited at least three days to let it dry, but they went ahead and powered it up much sooner than that – and its functionality came back, little by little. Read on for the full story, complete with pictures.

Backup 3 QuickPicks

October 2, 2005

Recently I discovered the blog at Wishingline Design Studios, and they got me started messing with the new QuickPicks options for Backup 3, which are pre-built lists of files and folders to backup. They allow you to quickly choose a set of items for backup without having to navigate to the folder on disk, much less know where it exists.

QuickPicks are surprisingly easy to create. If you’re interested in making your own, you can browse through the contents of any QuickPick bundle and edit a copy to make your own. I’ve created sets for two of my favorite bits of software, NetNewsWire and Little Snitch, and decided to share them here. You can download these two QuickPicks and install them by unzipping the archive and placing the two in the /Library/Application Support/Backup/QuickPicks/ folder (along with all the other QuickPicks). Enjoy!

Update: Added several more QuickPicks to the pack, bringing the full list to:

  • Little Snitch Backs up your Little Snitch firewall settings
  • Apache Backs up Apache webserver settings at /etc/apache2/
  • .bash_login Backs up your ~/.bash_login file
  • SSH Keys Backs up your SSH keys from ~/.ssh
  • Xcode Backs up your Xcode preferences, key bindings, and color settings
  • NetNewsWire Backs up your NetNewsWire subscriptions and settings


October 1, 2005

Griffin Technology has introduced SmartDeck, an iPod-to-cassette adapter which senses the tape deck’s movements and sends the appropriate remote control signals to your iPod. While it currently only works with iPods that sport a serial remote control, the device can tell the speed and direction of the small wheels inside your cassette player which are normally used to move the magnetic tape from one tiny reel to the other. Cassette adapters have no tape, so the wheels usually spin free while your play music through your car stereo via your iPod. With the SmartDeck, you can keep your iPod stashed in the glovebox and simply use the tape deck’s buttons to remotely control the iPod. What an awesome idea.

Cricket Robot

September 24, 2005

Here’s a great project I happened to run across while sorting through bookmarks. Henry Arnold’s Cricket is a six-legged walking robot, controlled by a BASIC Stamp II microcontroller. Full wiring diagrams, frame layouts, and source code are all available for you to make your own ‘bot.

While the site doesn’t look like it’s changed in the last five or so years, the project is none the less fun to build and learn from. I put one together one many years ago as my first robot built from scratch, not using pre-made kits or packages of any sort. All the materials had to be bought from various suppliers, cut, assembled, etc. It took a number of weeks to get it going, but it was a great learning experience. During the process, I emailed back and forth with the designer himself, and he was most helpful. The Cricket robot was my first introduction to programming microcontrollers, and that has since spurred on many other hardware projects.

Definitely give it a look if you want to get into electronics or embedded hardware.

cricket robot front

cricket robot back

Comcast Setup

September 23, 2005

Here’s a scary article detailing the unsafe security practices of Comcast’s cable modem setup software. Definitely worth a read if you have or plan to set up cable internet through Comcast. I’m glad I’ve always insisted on just calling them up after receiving the cable modem and simply reading off the serial number and MAC address off the bottom of the modem.

Setting up an internet connection really shouldn’t require anything complicated, much less software that poses a significant security threat to your computer. If Macs do eventually end up with viruses and trojans and all that mess, it will be because of serious oversights like this on the part of other companies, not bugs within OS itself. That said, I’ve been quite happy with the speed of Comcast’s service, that’s for sure.